Cleanup a muddy mix of trash, resolve

Volunteers from all over the Brandywine watershed came together on Saturday, April 23, to make a difference – and to have some good old-fashioned, muddy fun – by cleaning up the creek.

On a rain-soaked Saturday morning, volunteers await their team assignment before heading to rid the Brandywine of trash.

On a rain-soaked Saturday morning, volunteers await their team assignment before heading to rid the Brandywine of trash.

The Young Friends of the Brandywine Conservancy held its 23rd annual cleanup, and despite the pouring rain, nearly 70 volunteers gathered to do their part. Parents helped raincoat-clad children pull on their work gloves as the attendees were separated into teams, which would cover the entire length of the creek from the Lenape area to Delaware.

Since more than 500,000 residents in Pennsylvania and Delaware get their drinking water from the Brandywine, cleanup efforts are extremely important to the community. The effort also helps provide a healthier habitat for wildlife and a safer environment for recreational activities, according to the conservancy.

Many of the volunteers were families who have been living in the area for some time. Jim Zug, a parent and local resident, mentioned that his family used to live in Washington, D.C. and took part in similar cleanup projects for the Potomac River. “We wanted to continue what we were doing in D.C., and this was just a great opportunity for that,” said Zug.

Young Friends of the Brandywine spread out in search of trash during the 23rd annual cleanup.

Young Friends of the Brandywine spread out in search of trash during the 23rd annual cleanup.

When asked what debris they expected to find that afternoon, most volunteers replied that the big pollutants are cans, plastic bottles, and old tires. Jim Zug agreed, noting that they found “hundreds of tires” in the Potomac while living in D.C.

Twelve-year-old Livingston Zug, a sixth-grader at Wilmington Friends, suggested opening a store to sell the broken tires, but his amused father assured him there “wouldn’t be a very big market for that.”

Kathy Smith, who organized the event, was enthusiastic about the success they’ve had at past cleanups, and hoped that this year’s would follow suit. Smith explained that the cleanup teams typically cleared about 10 to 12 miles of river each year, and have so far removed more than 33 tons of garbage from the Brandywine.

Over the years, the conservancy has found some interesting objects submerged in the river, the most unusual being an enormous purple gorilla statue. “We call it the 500-pound gorilla,” said Smith. “It’s been something of a mascot for us for a few years.”

Virginia A. Logan, executive director of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum of Art, called the Young Friends “a critical part” of the organization.

“They’re really ushering in the next generation of volunteers,” she said, adding that it’s a great group for both “children and the young at heart.” Moreover, their efforts make a huge difference within the community, she said.

“It’s free, it’s fun, and you’re making a difference,” said Smith. “You can’t get much better than that.”

 

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About Morgan Carter

Morgan Carter is a creative writing student interning with Chadds Ford Live. She loves tea, long walks on beaches, and baking – provided there is a recipe on the back of the box. She lives in Chadds Ford with her parents, three siblings, and two spunky parakeets. Morgan is very excited to be a part of the Chadds Ford Live team, and hopes to pursue a career in writing after graduating from college.

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